A pair of male Asiatic Lions born June 16 at Great Britain’s Paignton Zoo are two of just 15 born in zoos around the world so far this year.
Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo
Only about 500 Asiatic Lions are found in the wild today, all living in India’s Gir National Park & Sanctuary. These cats once lived across southeastern Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, and India. The subspecies is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Hunting and habitat destruction through the centuries have caused the cats’ decline.
The cubs’ mother, Maliya, has kept the cubs tucked away in the birthing den for several weeks. The zoo staff is pleased with how Maliya, a first-time mother, has been caring for her babies with the help of her mother, Indu, and the cubs’ father, Lucifer.
Asiatic Lions are smaller than Africa Lions and have a distinctive fold of skin on the belly and a smaller, lighter-colored mane on adult males.
The Cincinnati’s Zoo’s newest resident must have been in a hurry to meet the world: The 100-pound Masai Giraffe calf was born after a brief 30-minute labor and stood within an hour of its birth.
Most Giraffe births take up to six hours from the onset of active labor to delivery, but this calf took the shortcut. It all began when the calf’s first-time mother, Cece, refused to leave her night quarters and enter the zoo’s Giraffe Ridge exhibit on July 27.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
“Labor started at 9:57 a.m., hooves out at 10, head at 10:22 and birth at 10:27! The birth process can take up to six hours, so 30 minutes is incredibly fast, especially for a first-time mom,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The calf, whose gender is not yet known and does not yet have a name, appears strong and healthy. Keepers identified a heart-shaped spot on the baby’s right shoulder.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s history with Giraffe births dates back to 1889 when it became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to produce a baby Giraffe. This is the 14th Giraffe born in Cincinnati.
After nearly 15 months of gestation, a baby Giraffe drops to the ground head first during the birth process. The fall and the landing do no hurt the calf, but they do cause it to take a big breath. To prepare for the birth, keepers added more than six inches of wood shavings in Cece’s indoor stall and placed straw on top of large rubber mats to provide stable footing for the calf's first attempts at standing.
Although their numbers have decreased by about 35% in the past two decades, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Giraffes as a species of Least Concern. Researchers are gathering data to better understand the implications of hunting, agriculture, and shrinking wild lands on all nine subspecies of Giraffes.
The twin Sumatran Tiger cubs, at ZSL London Zoo, recently joined their seven-year-old mum, Melati, when she emerged to bask in the summer sunshine.
In honor of “International Tiger Day”, keepers at the Zoo have released incredible close-up footage of the critically endangered cubs, born June 27.
According to Tigerday.org, “International Tiger Day is held annually on July 29 to give worldwide attention to the preservation of tigers. It is both an awareness day as a celebration. It was founded at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. This was done because at that moment wild tigers were too close to extinction. Many animal welfare organizations pledged to help these wonderful creatures and are still helping to raise funds to reach this goal. The goal of Tiger Day is to promote the protection and expansion of the wild tigers habitats and to gain support through awareness for tiger conservation.”
Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo
Concerning the cubs' recent adventure, Senior Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick remarked, “…The trio spent all day outside in the sunshine, and when Melati took a break, dad Jae Jae was on hand to keep an eye on the twins.
“The cubs are very young, so they’re still sticking quite close to mum, but the more time they spend outside the more confidant they’ll become. We’re looking forward to seeing them explore the rest of their new territory over the coming weeks.”
Keepers have been keeping a close eye on the cubs since they made their public debut in the Zoo’s Tiger Territory exhibit, and they are pleased with how well the twins have been developing.
Until they all ventured out for the first time, keepers report that Melati and her small duo were left alone in their dens. Keepers are now starting to spend more time working near the dens and the enclosure. They are slowly introducing the cubs to the keepers’ presence, which will, hopefully, allow for a more relaxed and comfortable experience when the cubs have their first health check. Once the cubs are sexed, they will also be given names.
The colony of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) that debuted in 2015, as a new species at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, has successfully produced a chick that is now on exhibit with the rest of the colony.
The chick hatched May 10, and this is the first time this species has bred at the Bronx Zoo, in the zoo’s 120-plus year history.
Known for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, Little Penguins are also known as Blue Penguins, Little Blue Penguins, and Fairy Penguins. Adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh around 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand.
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
Little Penguins lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, or under thick vegetation. They may even nest under man-made structures. Both parents care for and incubate the egg. Newly hatched chicks weigh just 25g. The chicks lose their downy plumage at about 50 days of age when it is replaced with waterproof feathers.
With the exception of the new chick, all of the birds in the Bronx Zoo colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful Little Penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the Little Penguin populations in the U.S.
The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest, colonially, in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.
A herd of Turkmenian Flare-horned Markhor (Capra falconeri hepterni) roams the rocky terrain in their expansive habitat along the Wild Asia Monorail at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo.
The herd consists of eleven males (easily identified by their huge spiraled horns and distinct coats), ten females (which are smaller than the males and have much shorter horns), and their offspring, which includes eight kids born this year.
The Markhor is a unique species of goat found in the mountains of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They inhabit upper elevations, with vegetation as their food source. They are skilled climbers and will scale steep rocky terrain to escape predators such as snow leopards and wolves.
The Bronx Zoo’s Markhor live with a herd of Himalayan Tahr, another species of Asiatic mountain goat found in areas of China, Tibet, Nepal, and northern India.
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
Wild Markhor are threatened by human activity in the ranges where they live. Their impressive twisted horns and thick fur make them a target for trophy hunters and poachers. They are also susceptible to habitat loss from expansion of land used for domestic livestock, and from disease spread from the growing livestock population.
With support from US Ambassador Fund, Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund, and other supporters, WCS has been working to save wild Markhor in the mountains of northern Pakistan since 1997. Now working with 65 communities, WCS has seen a 70 percent increase in Markhor populations in the last decade, with estimates placed at 1,700 wild Markhor in this landscape—a significant proportion of the global population of this endangered mountain goat.
The WCS Pakistan Program’s recovery of Markhor in Pakistan has helped lead to the recent, nearly unprecedented two-stage down-listing of Markhor by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from an “Endangered” classification, passing the status of “Vulnerable”, to now being known as “Near Threatened”.
Paradise Park, in Cornwall, UK, released news of a first for the park: the hatching of a Purple Gallinule chick.
Director Alison Hales explains, “We have a wonderful new addition, a Purple Gallinule chick! This is the first time this species has breed at Paradise Park. It is a couple of weeks old and it has been fascinating to see how well its parents care for it. Walking with it and offering tiny bits of food, then encouraging it to snuggle under their feathers to keep warm.”
Alison continues, “These birds have remarkably large feet. They are members of the rail family, their other name being the Purple Swamphen, which gives a clue to where their long toes prove useful. They are able to walk on floating vegetation, and clamber across reeds and swamps. They also use their feet to grab young shoots and bring the food towards their beak. Their diet is mainly leaves and shoots, but they will also take snails and even eggs from the nests of other water birds.”
Photo Credits: Paradise Park
The Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) is beautifully colored and native to southern and tropical freshwater wetlands. It is essentially a tropical marshbird that is found in parts of the southern United States, particularly near the Gulf of Mexico, but some go even farther afield. The Purple Gallinule, despite appearing to be an awkward flier, regularly turns up in northern parts of the United States and into southern Canada. It has even been found numerous times in Europe and South Africa.
Chester Zoo has released amazing video footage they captured of a rare Scottish Wildcat kitten, bred at the Zoo, emerging from its den for the first time since birth.
The endangered wildcat was born on May 13, and keepers do not yet know its sex.
The arrival of the kitten (the first to ever be born at the Cheshire, UK zoo) has given a big boost to a conservation programme, which is working to bring Britain’s rarest mammal back from the edge of extinction.
Experts believe there could now be fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild, making the Scottish Wildcat, or ‘Highland Tiger’ as it is affectionately known, one of the most endangered populations of cats in the world.
Wildcats once thrived in Britain but were almost hunted to extinction for their fur and to stop them preying on valuable game birds. They are now protected under UK law but remain under huge threat from crossbreeding with feral and domestic cats, habitat loss, and accidental persecution.
Scottish Wildcat mum, Einich:
Photo/Video Credit: Chester Zoo
A coordinated action plan to save the highly threatened animals, named Scottish Wildcat Action, has been devised to protect the species and involves over 20 conservation partners including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Forestry Commission Scotland, as well as Chester Zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation campaign. Conservation breeding in zoos, for their eventual release, has been identified as an important component in the long-term recovery plan for the animals.
Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “The arrival of the new kitten is a major boost to the increasingly important captive population in Britain. It was born in May but has spent the first few months safely tucked up in its den with mum, Einich, and has only recently gained enough confidence to venture out and explore. It won’t be too long until this little kitten grows into a powerful predator.
“Conservation breeding in zoos is a key element in the wider plan to conserve the species in the UK and, drawing on the unique skills, knowledge and knowhow of the carnivore experts working here, we’re breeding Scottish Wildcats to increase the safety net population and hope to release their offspring into the highlands of Scotland in the future.
“In tandem with our breeding programme, we’re also supporting monitoring work in the Scottish highlands and have funded camera traps that are being used to identify areas where wildcat populations are thriving or suffering.
“This project is of national importance and shows what an important role zoos can play in helping to save local species. We’re very much part of efforts to maximise the chances of maintaining a wild population of the stunning Scottish Wildcat for the long term.”
For several months, the kittens have been tucked safely in their dens with their mothers, but they have begun venturing outdoors recently. The playfulness that zoo guests observe between the mothers and their babies is actually an important part of developing the kittens’ survival skills.
Also known as the Highland Tiger, this rare native species is facing the threat of extinction due to hybridization with domestic and feral Cats, habitat loss, and accidental persecution. The species is Critically Endangered in Scotland and is the only wild Cat native to Scotland.
The zoo is partnering with other Scottish conservation organizations to develop an action plan for preserving the species. The captive breeding program managed by the zoo provides an increasingly important safety net as the wild population of this Wildcat continues to decline.
Although some similarities with Domestic Cats exist, the two species are not to be confused. The Scottish Wildcat is an isolated sub-population of the European Wildcat, which is found in continental Europe. Wildcats prefer to live alone but will come together for breeding, normally giving birth to two or three kittens, which the mother will protect fiercely.
With their big, bushy, black-ringed tail and tenacious behavior, Scottish Wildcats play a large role in Scottish lore, and were often used in clan crests.
A little cub named Lola is the first Andean Bear birth at the Belfast Zoo in more than 20 years.
Keepers didn’t have high hopes when the Lola’s parents, Spook and Alice, were first introduced, as the two scarcely seemed to tolerate one another.
Then, in late 2015, Alice began to show signs of pregnancy. Keepers gave Alice a private den for the latter stages of her pregnancy, and Lola was born on February 6.
Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo
Andean Bear cubs remain in the den with their mother exclusively for several months. On May 31, the zoo’s veterinary staff performed their first health check on the cub, confirmed her gender, and pronounced her healthy.
Now that Lola is in the Bear habitat, zoo guests are enjoying her antics as she navigates the rocks and tries out new foods.
Andean Bears are also known as Spectacled Bears due to the light fur around their eyes, which can look like spectacles against the Bear’s darker fur. No two bears have the same pattern.
These Bears live in cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes Mountains, stretching Venezuela to Peru. There are eight species of Bear species worldwide, but the Andean bear is the only one native to South America. Andean Bears are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by agriculture. They are also hunted for meat and for their supposed medicinal properties.
Northwest Trek recently held a naming contest for their newest Moose calf. Members of the public cast 4,337 votes in a naming survey conducted over a couple of weeks. There were three ‘tree-name’ choices up for the vote: Spruce, Douglas and Ash. And the winner is…Spruce!
Spruce’s big sister, Willow, arrived last July 17 – a surprise gift on Northwest Trek’s 40th birthday.
Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Many of Northwest Trek’s members, visitors and friends liked and commented on the naming survey on social media, giving their opinions on the choices submitted by keepers – and suggesting a few of their own. One comment, though, perfectly summed up what seemed to be the prevailing sentiment: “Awww Spruce the Moose would be adorable!” And, in fact, he is adorable.
Spruce spends his days hanging out with mother Connie, staying close but venturing out a little into the forest to munch on browse (twigs, leaves, tree branches). He also continues to nurse, and is growing quickly.
According to keepers, they just can’t haul a scale out into the woods, track down a moose and weigh him, so they have to estimate his weight. It’s approximately 50 pounds. (While nursing, a calf can gain up to three pounds a day.)
Spruce’s parents were named for Northwest Trek icons: Connie for the wildlife park’s co-founder, Connie Hellyer and his father, Ellis, was named for longtime wildlife park deputy director and conservationist, Dave Ellis. But in keeping with the wildlife park’s animal naming procedures that began a couple of years ago, Willow and the new calf will have identities that reflect the forests in which their species live.
Moose are the only residents of the wildlife park’s Free-Roaming Area that are given names.
Visitors aboard narrated tram tours of forests and meadows in the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area should keep sharp eyes out the windows, seeking a sighting of Northwest Trek’s five moose: adults Connie, Ellis, and Nancy and calves Willow and Spruce.